By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — “I am a registered nurse, and I worked in nursing homes. The last five to six years I worked at St. Joe’s. Elderly care has always been a passion of mine,” explained Pam Johns.
“My grandmother is really what inspired me to do this,” Johns said. “She was in a facility that was large. She had been very independent, and then Grandpa passed away. She stayed home 10-plus years, and then she had a gall bladder taken out. After that she would get pancreatic attacks.
“She wouldn’t know when her pancreas was flaring up until it would deplete her potassium, and she would just fall, … and she couldn’t get back up.
“She was walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night and fell, and she laid there until 9:30 a.m. the next day because she didn’t have enough strength to get up. She had her cane and was beating on the wall, but it wasn’t a wall that was connected to anybody, so she laid there in her nightgown all night, freezing, scared.
“After that she went to a large facility. She didn’t totally need it. It was so horrible. She was so independent, and she felt like a number. When she put on a call light, it would take so long for someone to get there because they had so many people.”
After a stroke and a heart attack, Johns’ grandmother Catherine Ashbeck woke up in a critical care unit in disbelief.
“She said, ‘I can’t believe I had a heart attack and I am still here,’” recalled Johns.
As Ashbeck’s health deteriorated, her family created a constant vigil to be at her side to lend a hand. During this time, Johns noticed an overwhelming disposition in her grandmother that she had somehow become an unnecessary burden to her family.
From there a desire was born in Johns to open a home for elderly that are not safe to be in their residence alone.
“Seeing my grandma live through it, that is why I wanted to do a small facility where people still feel like they have meaning in life. That is what drew me into action and do it,” Johns said.
Johns received her license in May and has opened the Winter Haven assisted living home on Marshfield’s west side. The residence has accommodation for four residents. There are four bedrooms, furnished or unfurnished; three full baths; two showers; a claw-foot tub; a walk-in tub; and a bidet. The home also includes a fireplace, formal dining room, eat-in kitchen, and large sun porch.
Residency includes three meals and snacks that meet the dietary needs of the individuals as well as in-home care and supervision.
Johns also has plans to create a relaxed home environment where friends and family are welcome and encouraged to participate in meals, activities, and outings.
“You can’t help a lot of people because of the space, and that is part of the purpose: to keep it small. But if you make a difference in just a few people’s lives and they live the rest of their life feeling like they are loved and have a purpose, what is more fulfilling than that?”
For more on Winter Haven, visit winterhavenassistedlivingllc.com.